Monday, March 7, 2011

Going to the dairy

About two years ago, I became lactose intolerant.  A big disappointment for a milk and dairy lover like me.  Shortly after giving up dairy, I was at a neighbor's house using some woodworking tools in his workshop for a table I was refurbishing, when he mentioned he was going out to buy milk and would be back in an hour and a half.  I thought he was joking as the store was just minutes away.  It turns out he was serious, but he wasn't going to the store.  He was going over the border into New Hampshire to a family run dairy that sells raw milk.  We launched into a long conversation about why.  Turns out his son was also lactose intolerant and the answer for them was raw milk.  Baby cows don't have all the needed enzymes to digest their mother's milk.  The enzymes are in the milk.  Pasteurizing milk, not only kills the bad stuff that can occur in poorly harvested and stored milk, but it kills the good stuff like probiotics and beneficial enzymes.  Homogenizing milk changes it at the molecular level, which also contributes to our bodies having digestion troubles.  His son and everyone else in the family had switched to raw and had no troubles with it.  In fact, over time the benefits in the raw milk helped him to tolerate conventional dairy products like ice cream.  I admit, I was skeptical.  I had heard the stories of people getting really sick from contaminated milk.  Funny thing is, these people had gotten sick from pasteurized milk!  I did a lot of research, interviewed the dairyman at the New Hampshire dairy, inspected the dairy myself and learned about the strict testing they undergo to be able to sell raw milk and decided to give it a try myself.  The rest is history.  The milk is absolutely delicious.  My whole family drinks and loves it.  People visiting my home drink it and love it, many say they even look forward to it.  I no longer have stomach distress with milk and after drinking it for a couple months and getting a balance of the good stuff in my tummy, I was able to start eating conventional dairy products like ice cream again.  Yum!    It's a bit of a haul to get to the dairy each week, but my neighbors and I share the chore and I only have to go every other week, and I have to say it is my favorite errand.  There is such pleasure driving off the beaten path to the family owned dairy, up in the mountains.  The farmers are so friendly and welcoming.  The shop is run on the honor system.  Barn cats meet you meowing in the driveway, occassional mooing  resonates from the barn and the site of all the sparkling bottles of milk in the glass cooler is so happy.
  The cows are raised so humanely and are so healthy and content.  Babies are kept with their mama's, the food is locally raised and the barn is kept clean.  I never find the smell overpowering or offensive.  It's just such a pleasure to go and feel close to my food supply.  I find this is true with all my food.  If I raise it, someone I know raised it or I get it from a local source, it just tastes better - and in fact it is better!  It's better for our environment, our pocket books and OUR BODIES.  Turns out for me, becoming lactose intolerant (conventional, that is) was a great blessing!

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